How is lung cancer diagnosed?


Quick Answer

Lung cancer is diagnosed by performing tests such as CT scans, PET scans and bone scans. Further testing is done to determine if the condition is actually lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association. These tests include: bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, fine needle biopsy and endoscopic esophageal ultrasound.

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Full Answer

Performing a bronchoscopy allows doctors to see inside the airways of their patients' lungs. This procedure can help find the cause of a lung condition, such as bleeding sites, excess mucus, tumors and signs of infection. Needle biopsies are used to take samples of suspicious-looking lung cells with a needle. If the cancer has spread, samples can be taken from the liver or from the lympth nodes, states Mayo Clinic. An imaging test can show abnormal nodules on the lungs.

Certain tests can detect early lung cancer, adds the American Lung Association. Sputum cytology is used to screen for lung cancer cells in mucus samples. A low-dose spiral CT scan can show detailed pictures of areas in the body to diagnose lung cancer and can be used to decrease the risk of dying from the cancer.

Staging tests are done to determine the stage of the lung cancer, notes Mayo Clinic. These tests reveal if the lung cancer is in one lung or if it has spread.

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